EC751 Limestone monkeys from Amarna
Fragment of stone from the 1930 excavations at Amarna marked in ink ‘TA/30.31 210 T.36.60’. T 36.60 is an area in the North Suburb which Frankfort and Pendlebury (1933) believed to be a mud-brick factory. In Frankfort and Pendlebury (1933, 51) 30/210 is described as ‘fragment of a limestone group of monkeys’. The condition of EC751 makes it very difficult to discern a monkey or group of monkeys. Nevertheless, it is similar to the known monkey groups from Amarna in its rounded form, in that it is made from limestone and has traces of paint upon it.
Monkeys in the New Kingdom were often depicted in human poses, ‘aping’ human behaviours, including that of the royal family. These occur not only as 3-D models but also as depictions on ostraca. The limestone groups from Amarna most commonly depict 2 or 3 monkeys grooming or tending their young. It is sometimes said that these were made to mock the royal family as the monkey and royal groups both show scenes of chariotry or intimate behaviour such as kissing (Hornung/Lorton 1995, 110).
These animals also had religious significance. They were associated with the welcoming of the sun and with sexual potency. Temples had sacred monkeys attached to them and certain gods, such as Thoth were linked to them.
Stevens (2006, 106–110) states that over 200 stone and pottery figurines of monkeys were found at Amarna.
Frankfort, H. and Pendlebury J.D.S. 1933, The City of Akhenaten Part II, The north suburb and the desert alters: the excavations at tell el-Amarna during the seasons 1926-1932. London: Egypt Exploration Society.
Hornung, E. translated by D. Lorton. 1995. Akhenaten and the Religion of Light. Ithica and London: Cornell University Press.
Stevens, A. 2006. Private Religion at Amarna. The Material Evidence. Oxford: Archaeopress.